Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hendriks dominates Paw Sox, Youkilis rehabs

The Pawtucket Red Sox got their first taste of Rochester Red Wings starting pitcher Liam Hendriks on Wednesday night at Frontier Field. It's safe to say that they don't want to see him again anytime soon.

Hendriks scattered 3 hits and struck out 6 over 8 dominant innings as the Red Wings defeated the Paw Sox 4-2.

The 22 year old Aussie posted an 8-2 record in New Britain (AA) before being promoted on July 18th to Rochester. Despite rough starts on the road in Norfolk and Durham during the beginning of August, Hendriks has come on strong of late and evened his record at 4-4 before 9,426.

Hendriks had the daunting task of facing Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis 3 times tonight but looked up to the challenge. When asked about facing Youkilis, he said, "Going in there, I was like I'm not going to over-pitch him. You see a lot of guys go in there and see a big leaguer on rehab, especially one as big as Kevin Youkilis, and they just throw all off speed. I was like I'm going to go out there and challenge him and make him hit the ball. He flied out deep a couple of times but they stayed in."

Youkilis bounced out 5-3 to end the first and, for the second night in a row, Rochester's offense got on the board in the bottom half. After a Matt Tolbert walk, Jeff Bailey doubled him in and Dustin Martin followed suit with an RBI single of his own. Rochester tacked on a 3rd run after Jair Fernandez drove in Aaron Bates in the 2nd.

Rochester's play of the year happened in the top of the 3rd as Brian Dinkelman robbed Paw Sox 2B Nate Spears of a 2-run home run. Dinkelman only stands 5-11 but he timed the jump perfectly to extend himself over the wall and make the play. Hendriks said, "Off the bat I thought it was gone. Even before he came down I thought it's gone over. All you can do is just tip your cap, give him a high five, and buy him dinner."

Dinkelman was equally surprised with the catch. "I think it's the first in my life that I've actually robbed anyone of a home run."

Hendriks didn't allow a hit until the 5th and kept the Paw Sox offense at bay. He struck out the side in the 8th and exited with 95 pitches (66 strikes).

The rehabbing Youkilis was 0-3 entering the 9th but took an 0-1 pitch to left-center field for a solo home run off Kyle Waldrop. After the game, he seemed positive about his rehab and excited to rejoin the Red Sox as they enter their stretch run. "I felt good, I was running and the one thing is when you have to do it every day you have to stay at it. At least we know where the problems are and we have a great training staff and we'll make sure every day that I stay healthy and stay strong through September."

The Paw Sox were without J.D. Drew, a late omission from the line-up. Drew injured a finger in his 2nd at bat last night and was lifted in the 5th. He was flown to Boston this afternoon to be evaluated.

In all, the Red Wings scored 4 runs on the night and produced them all with 2 outs. A considerable number of fans may have shown up Tuesday and Wednesday to see Youkilis and Drew but it's Hendriks who deserves our attention.

His ability to keep the ball around the plate without walking batters (4.5:1 K:BB rate in AA, 10:1 in AAA) will serve him and the Red Wings well as they prepare for 2012. Hendriks alluded to finishing his pitches better of late and the results certainly back it up. He doesn't lose his velocity as the game progresses either as the fastball was sitting in the high 80s to low 90s all night long. Effectively mixing his curveball proved to be the difference tonight.

His willingness to challenge a Major League All-Star shows a lot about his confidence on the mound. Kyle Gibson may have a higher projected ceiling but Hendriks has command and poise on the mound that the Minnesota Twins top prospect has lacked all year.

Suffice to say, we haven't heard the last of Liam Hendriks.

Not by a long shot.

Live Blog: Paw Sox @ Red Wings

Pawtucket 2
Rochester 4

W- Hendriks (4-4)
L - Weiland (8-10)
S- Waldrop (2)

Top 9
Kyle Waldrop in relief of Hendriks. His final line: 8IP, 3H, 1ER, 6K, 0BB.
Lin, Luna, Youk due up for the Paw Sox.
Lin lifts one to left. 1 down.
Luna gets decent wood on the ball but hits it right at Dinkelman. 2 outs.
Youkilis bomb to left center. Rough estimate 395ish? 4-2 Rochester.
Lavarnway down to his final strike and he bounces out to 3rd.

Bottom 8
Atchison in and another quick half inning as Tolbert, Chang, and Bailey all go down. 2 hours and 10 minutes in as we go to the 9th. Youk laid out for a ball at 3rd to get Bailey and made the play. Very nice!

Top 8
Liam Hendriks strikes out the side. Carroll, Spears, and Iglesias all down swinging. 6Ks on the night. Not much to say about the Paw Sox offense tonight.

Top and Bottom 7
I'm guilty of visiting a co-worker so this is very Readers Digest: Paw Sox went down 1-2-3 and Rochester has Bates leadoff with a walk only to be caught stealing for the 3rd out. Score remains 4-1. Of note, Junichi Tazawa pitched the 7th for Pawtucket and looked effective minus his lone walk. 14 pitches and 8 strikes.

Bottom 6
Brett Carroll lays out for a ball down the right field line but doesn't make the play. Bailey ends up on 2nd with a double and Lambin drives him in with 2 outs. 4-1 Rochester.

Top 6
Hendriks gets another 1-2-3 inning with Youkilis flying out to center. 7 pitches in 3 at-bats for Youkilis tonight. Hard to tell if he hasn't been selective enough or if Hendriks is doing a good job pitching to contact. I'll go with the latter due to Youk's typical plate approach.

Bottom 5
Fanboy alert: As Trevor Plouffe is showing no signs of being sent down, Fernandez is quickly rising to the occasion to take over for next season. You have been warned!
A Roberts double was squandered after Tolbert flew out to left to end the inning.

Top 5
Daniel Nava breaks up 4 innings of no-hit ball with a leadoff double. Anderson, who was 3-4 last night, flies out to the track. Brett Carroll follows with a single and Spears drives him in with a sac-fly.
Iglesias singles down the right field line and Dinkelman throws to second. They consequently send Carroll and Tolbert throws him out at home as Fernandez hangs on to the ball. Carroll hit him pretty hard...what a play. 3-1 Rochester.

Bottom 4
Dustin Martin singles through the hole in left side of the infield but Weiland gets a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play followed by a Dinkelman K to end the inning unscathed.

Top 4
Kevin Youkilis flies out to edge of the warning track in left center following Luna's popout to short. Ryan Lavarnway then gets thrown out at first by a nice barehanded play by Chase Lambin.

Bottom 3
Matt Tolbert lifts the first pitch he sees to left and his struggles continue. Ray Chang follows by grounding out to Youkilis who looks like himself tonight. Doesn't seem like the back is playing an issue. Bailey ends the inning by grounding out to Iglesias. So effortless at short.

Top 3
Hendriks starts out the inning by hitting Carroll. Looked to me the hand or wrist but he looks fine.
***Brian Dinkelman just absolutely robbed Spears of a 2R HR at the wall in right. Perfectly timed jump! Lin down looking to end the top. Dinkelman gets a standing ovation as he comes off the field. Rochester leads 3-0.

As far as September callups are concerned, don't look past Dinkelman to get another shot with the Twins. Gardenhire likes his versatility as he can be slotted at 2B as well as the corner OF spots.

Bottom 2
Jair Fernandez, recently called up from AA New Britain, drilled a 2-out double to left scoring Aaron Bates. 3-0 Rochester with all runs being produced with 2 outs.

Top 2
Hendriks continues to look solid, getting the Paw Sox 1-2-3 again. I love this kid's stuff and his ability to pitch effectively to contact. 81K 18BB in 90 IP for New Britain and, coming into tonight, 24K and 3BB for Rochester. Looks confident on the rubber.

Bottom 1
Rochester jumps on Kyle Weiland early after Matt Tolbert walks on 5 pitches. A 2-out RBI double for Jeff Bailey followed by an RBI single for Dustin Martin make it 2-0 Rochester. Martin is caught stealing to end the frame.

Top 1
Rochester starter Liam Hendriks very economical in the first, mowing down the Paw Sox 1-2-3 with 11 pitches. Kevin Youkilis bounced out to 3rd.

Live Blog: Pawtucket @ Rochester

Live blogging tonight at Frontier Field for Pawtucket @ Rochester - 7:05.

Paw Sox
Lin (8), Luna (DH), Youkilis (5), Lavarnway (2), Nava (7), Anderson (3), Carroll (9), Spears (4), Igesias (6). SP: Weiland.

Red Wings
Roberts (8), Tolbert (6), Chang (4), Bailey (3), Martin (7), Lambin (5), Dinkelman (9), Bates (DH), Fernandez (2). SP: Hendriks.

J.D. Drew hurt his finger in his 2nd AB last night and has been sent back to Boston to be evaluated.
Some interesting game notes courtesy of the Pawtucket PR Department:
  • The Paw Sox rank 13th in the IL in hitting (.253) but 2nd in pitching (3.55 ERA).
  • An 8 game errorless streak to begin August was their longest since 1994.
  • Pawtucket have stolen 19 bases in their last 19 games and have been successful in 32 of their last 39 tries (33 games).
  • They have the best record of all IL teams within their respective divisions at 45-29.
  • Pawtucket have lost 14 games on their opposition's last at-bat but have won 13 in similar fashion.
  • 15 different Paw Sox players to date have been promoted to the Red Sox this season.
Playoff tickets are now on sale at the McCoy Stadium Box Office. You can also order by calling (401) 724-7300 or by visiting

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/31/11

Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-11, 6.46)
vs. Harrisburg Senators (Erik Arnesen 8-4, 2.57)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Drew Granier 1-1, 1.90)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (N/A)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 8-9, 3.46)
vs. Rochester Red Wings ()

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Yohan Pino 3-7, 4.09)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Steve Garrison 3-8, 6.86)

New Britain Rock Cats (Spencer Steedley 4-4, 4.73)
vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Justin Schumer 0-0, 2.00)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Jeffrey Walters 3-6, 3.45)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 1-5, 5.11)

Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse 5-1, 3.19)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Flying Squirrels – You have seven games remaining and a half game lead in the Wild Card race. Every game is a must win at this point, which is where the New Britain Rock Cats (69-66) currently find themselves as we near the finish of the regular season. As if the pressure of that wasn’t enough, the team they face, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (72-64), are in a similar predicament, battling to extend their season as the Wild Card rep from the E.L.’s Western Division. Spencer Stedley gets the start for New Britain, his sixth of the season and fifth in the month of August. He picked up a victory over Trenton in his last start after going 5 innings and allowing only 2 earned runs. The bulk of Stedley’s work this year has been from the pen where he has posted a 3-2 record with a 3.47 ERA in 23 appearances. Justin Schumer gets his second start for Richmond tonight. He was recently called up from Class-A Augusta and has since started once and made two relief appearances, allowing only 2 runs over 9 total innings. Prior to his call-up, Schumer made 12 starts and 11 relief appearances, racking up a 5-5 record with a 5.24 ERA…The Rock Cats are 14-13 in the month of August, the Flying Squirrels are 12-16. The season series between these two teams has been split with each team winning 6 games. The season series concludes on Thursday night at 7:05pm…Richmond owns the league’s worst team batting average (.246) and they also have the least amount of doubles (211)…The Rock Cats' 75 stolen bases are by far a league-low, but even worse is the 51 times they’ve been caught stealing, leading to a horrific .595 stolen base percentage. New Hampshire Fisher Cats center fielder, and league leader in swipes Anthony Gose has 66 stolen bases and a .815 SB%...New Britain’s Yangervis Solarte is in the midst of an eight game hit streak.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PawSox @ Red Wings - Quick Hits

I had the opportunity to see the visiting PawSox tonight at Frontier Field. Some quick impressions:

- J.D. Drew was extremely comfortable at the plate in his rehab assignment. He singled in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th and looked very professional. There's something to be said about an established Major Leaguer who rehabs and acts like he cares and J.D. certainly fell into that category tonight. He was replaced in the bottom of the 5th by Nate Spears.

- Kevin Youkilis' back looks fine. DHing tonight for the PawSox, he hustled from 1st to home on a Ryan Lavarnway double in the 5th and showed the same kind of effort and intensity that we have grown accustomed to in Boston. Youk was 1-4 with a BB and was pinch run for in the 9th.

- Will Middlebrooks' throwing accuracy from the hot corner was shaky. The youngster had 2 throws go astray but Lars Anderson made great plays on both to save potential errors.

-Jose Iglesias could prove to be a very valuable defensive replacement for the Red Sox if he gets the call. He's so smooth at short and it looks effortless.

- Starting pitcher Greg Smith, an oft forgotten piece in both the Dan Haren to Arizona and Matt Holliday to Oakland deals, got battered around by a mediocre Rochester lineup. Smith let every baserunner bite him on the scoreboard. Very tough night. His final line: 5IP, 6H, 6ER, 3BB, 3K.

- The difference tonight was Rochester's ability to capitalize on their chances. The PawSox had 15 hits and drew 2 walks but were responsible for 3 double plays to kill rally opportunities.

I'll be live blogging for tomorrow's 7:05 Pawtucket @ Rochester clash. Check in for live updates or follow me @Thomas_Saucke

Pitching Matchup; Game of the Day 8/30/11

Portland Sea Dogs (Charlie Haeger 3‐0, 2.75)
vs. Harrisburg Senators (Oliver Perez 3‐4, 3.04)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 1-5, 4.93)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (Bryan Mitchell 1-3, 4.13)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Greg Smith 4-3, 4.20)
vs. Rochester Red Wings (Cole DeVries 4-2, 4.07)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Drew Hutchison 1-0, 0.00)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Graham Stoneburner 1-4, 3.80)

New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 7-9, 4.43)
vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Chuck Lofgren 3-1, 3.38)

Brooklyn Cyclones (Carlos Vazquez 3-2, 3.64)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 4-3, 2.87)

Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 3-3, 1.62)

Game of the Day - Lake Monsters vs. Yankees – The Vermont Lake Monsters (35-33) escaped four straight games against Connecticut (34-33) with a half game lead in the Stedler Division over the Tigers, and six games remaining on the schedule. And it won’t be an easy final six for the Lake Monsters, who kick off a three game series against league best Staten Island (43-24) tonight. Tyler Vail starts for the Lake Monsters, his ninth start of the season with Vermont. Vail has not picked up a win since July and was 0-3 with a 6.89 ERA in August. The 19-year-old righty has some decent potential as a former 5th rounder for the A's, but he needs some work on his command as he currently has 20 walks to go with his 21 strike outs. Will Olvers gets the call for Staten Island looking for his second straight win. Oliver has been solid over his last six games, allowing 2 or fewer runs in each, including three scoreless starts. In a start versus Vermont in June, Oliver tossed 4 1/3 innings and allowed 4 earned runs…Staten Island won the previous series against Vermont, two game to one…Vermont is 13-13 in the month of August…Staten Island outfielder Mason Williams is leading the league with a .358 batting average, .021 points ahead of his closest competition…Vermont closer Tanner Peters has allowed only 3 earned runs over 23 2/3 innings of work and his 11 saves puts him third in the league, two behind Yankees closer Branden Pinder.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Games of the Day 8/29/11

Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette 2-4, 6.80) GAME 1
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Kyle Hallock 2-4, 1.82)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena 9-5, 3.46) GAME 1
vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Manny Banuelos 1-2, 3.86)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Alex Wilson 0-0, 4.50)
vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Dellin Betances 0-1, 5.00)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 4-4, 3.32)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 4-3, 2.85)
This game will follow the completion of the suspended game from June 25th.

Portland Sea Dogs (Jeremy Kehrt 2-1, 4.54)
vs. Harrisburg Senators (Daniel Rosenbaum 3-0, 1.37)

Lowell Spinners (Raul Alcantara 0-2, 9.82)
vs. Tri-City ValleyCats (Adam Champion 4-1, 3.72)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Nestor Molina 2-0, 0.56)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Craig Heyer 10-7, 3.88)

New Britain Rock Cats (Logan Darnell 1-0, 3.98)
vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Justin Fitzgerald 8-9, 3.55)

Game of the DayRed Sox vs. Yankees – As the two big clubs get set to meet at Fenway for three games starting Tuesday night, the Triple-A version of this rivalry goes into effect tonight, starting with a doubleheader, the second twin-bill between these teams in four days (Saturday and Sunday’s games were washed out by Hurricane Irene). So with eight games to play, the PawSox find themselves one game up on Lehigh Valley in the I.L. North, with the Gwinnett Braves standing as the only real Wild Card competition should they slip into second place. Tonight’s doubleheader features three starting pitchers who have all been promoted to Triple-A in August and combined have nine starts between them. The “veteran” of the group is Tony Pena who has had a “steady-as-he-goes” attitude about him all season. Despite this being only his thirteenth start of the year, Pena is tied for the team lead with nine wins and is fourth on the team with 106 2/3 innings pitched. Alex Wilson seeks his first Triple-A win in his third start for Pawtucket. In his first two starts Wilson has pitched a combined 10 innings and has struck out 10 batters, but has also yielded 9 hits and 6 walks. On the Yankees side sits two of my favorite pitching prospects in the game, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. Banuelos got the call-up at the beginning of the month, so he is the experienced one at this level, in all of his five starts. He has gone at least 5 innings in four of those starts and he has struck out 24 batters in 25 2/3 innings, but he has also allowed 12 walks and 31 hits, leading to an inflated 1.68 WHIP. Betances pitched well in his first start with Scranton when he struck out 9 Durham batters over 6 innings. However, things got real dicey in his second start when he was yanked after 3 innings, despite only giving up 1 hit and 2 runs, because of the 9 free passes he allowed. As far as who is pitching which game, your guess is as good as mine…hell, it’s probably better. But based on how has listed doubleheaders with the pitching matchups backwards all year long, and since the Pena/Banuelos matchup was supposed to be Saturday initially, I figured that would be the Game 1 matchup and thus Wilson/Betances in Game 2...but just a heads up because it could be the other way around.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pitching Matchups 8/27/11

Harrisburg Senators (Tanner Roark 8-8, 4.98)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 5-6, 4.06)

New Britain Rock Cats (Logan Darnell 1-0, 3.98) GAME 1
vs. Trenton Thunder (Craig Heyer 10-7, 3.88)

New Britain Rock Cats (N/A)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Cory Arbiso 5-5, 4.98)

Portland Sea Dogs (Michael Lee 1-6, 5.24) GAME 1
vs. Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 9-13, 4.83)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 3-2, 4.30)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanz 5-4, 3.25)

Tri-City ValleyCats (Juri Perez 1-5, 4.31)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Raynel Velette 2-4, 6.80)

Portland Sea Dogs (Matt Rusch 0-2, 5.56) GAME 2
vs. Reading Phillies (Derrick Loop 1-2, 5.40)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena 9-5, 3.46)
vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Manny Banuelos 1-2, 3.86)

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/26/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 8-4, 4.21) GAME 1
vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Adam Warren 6-6, 3.29)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 8-4, 4.21)
vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Adam Warren 6-6, 3.29)

Harrisburg Senators (Shairon Martis 7-5, 2.98)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Dustin McGowan 0-1, 3.18)

Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-11, 6.57)
vs. Reading Phillies (Tyler Cloyd 5-3, 2.90)

New Britain Rock Cats (Andrew Albers 3-1, 3.81)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Shaeffer Hall 10-7, 4.40)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 3-2, 4.30)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Thomas Collier 2-1, 2.36)

Tri-City ValleyCats (N/A)
vs. Lowell Spinners (N/A)

Game of the DayLake Monsters vs. Tigers – We finally take a breather from the heated Eastern League race (although things got even more heated after last night…but we need a break) to take a look at the New York-Penn Stedler Division, where Vermont and Connecticut stand poised to duke it out until the end. The Lake Monsters (33-30) have been atop the standings since the first week of the season without much in their way despite hovering around .500 most of the way. But after dropping two straight, the Monsters now have the Tigers (32-30) breathing down their neck, just one game back and ready to welcome them to their den to settle things in the Colosseum of baseball. Vermont is scheduled to have Brent Powers on the hill in his 11th start of the season. He is 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA over his last five games. Powers, an 18th round selection of the Oakland A’s in the July draft, has not yet faced the Tigers this season. Four rounds after Powers was taken, Detroit chose pitcher Thomas Collier who gets his sixth start tonight. The righty has impressed so-far, tallying 25 Ks in 26 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .217 batting average. In his limited time on the mound with Connecticut, Collier has posted a 2.36 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP…Vermont and Connecticut have four games remaining against each other (including tonight’s matchup), plus the completion of a suspended game from June 25th, which will be finished prior to Saturday’s game. Vermont leads the season series 4-1…Vermont reliever Tanner Peters has been outstanding this season. He has made 17 appearances out of the pen and has saved 11 games, allowing only 3 runs with 25 Ks in 21 2/3 innings…Despite batting .176 over his last ten games, Connecticut first baseman Dean Green is still hitting .352 for the month of August…The Tigers are 7-3 over their last ten game and Vermont is 6-4.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/25/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 8-9, 3.48)
vs. Syracuse Chiefs (Brad Meyers 5-4, 3.62)

Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 3-2, 3.77)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (Matthew Tracy 0-1, 2.65)

Portland Sea Dogs (Charlie Haeger 2-0, 3.34)
vs. Reading Phillies (Tyson Brummett 3-7, 4.40)

Harrisburg Senators (Erik Arnesen 8-4, 2.56)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Yohan Pino 3-7, 3.92)

New Britain Rock Cats (Spencer Steedley 3-4, 4.84)
vs. Trenton Thunder (Graham Stoneburner 1-3, 3.43)

Connecticut Tigers (Matt Crouse5-1, 3.54)
vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (Trent Howard 3-2, 3.48)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Drew Granier 1-1, 0.96)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Thunder – New Britain makes our GotD for the third time in four games thanks to their predicament in the standings and recent matchups. Tonight they start a crucial four-game series versus Trenton and if someone can take this, they will hold on to a glimmer of hope in the playoff race. As it stands now the Rock Cats (65-65) are two back of Reading (67-63) for the second playoff spot in the East, and the Thunder (64-65) are just a half game behind the Cats. With just twelve games left to play, each one becomes more important than the last for New Britain and they have to show their mettle now before they run out of time. New Britain’s Spencer Steedley gets his fifth start of the season. Because he has worked mainly as a reliever this season, expect only a few innings from Steedley this evening, but hopefully some quality ones as he had in his last two starts. Against Bowie and New Hampshire he tossed 8 innings and allowed 3 earned runs while striking out 9. Steedley has yet to pick up a win as a starter this year. He will be opposed by Graham Stoneburner who gets his ninth start with Trenton and fourteenth overall on the year. His only win with Trenton came back on April 15th against Harrisburg, then a stiff neck sidelined him until late June when he rehabbed up through the Gulf Coast and Tampa before returning to the Thunder. Selected by many as a Top 20 prospect for the Yankees, Stoneburner looked great in his first two games back with Trenton, but in the three that followed he allowed 10 earned runs, 20 hits and 9 walks over 13 innings…These two teams have only played one other time against each other this season with Trenton take 2 of 3 at New Britain. They will finish the season against each other in another four-game series to be played in New Britain…Rock Cats infielder Yangervis Solarte is batting .255 for the month of August after hitting over .300 in each of the previous four months (April - .359; May - .323; June - .300; July - .329)…New Britain pitcher Deolis Guerra had four starts and pitched 16 2/3 innings in April, finishing the month with a 9.18 ERA after allowed 17 earned runs, 26 hits, 5 walks and 4 home runs. In August he has 8 relief appearances totaling 17 innings and his ERA is 1.06 as he has allowed only 2 earned runs, 7 hits, 3 walks and no home runs…The Portland Sea Dogs became the first time officially eliminated from Eastern League playoff contention with their loss against Harrisburg last night.

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Last chance to dance

As Thursday’s midnight voting deadline draws near for the Minors Moniker Madness tournament final, Thomas Saucke and myself decided to pick sides in the battle and lay it all on the line, in one final push for the two remaining candidates.

The case for Seth Schwindenhammer (Tom)

Frazier and Ali in ’71. NC State and Houston in ‘83. The Twins and the Braves in ’91. Schwindenhammer and Harvard in ’11.

The brilliant voters at could not have picked a finer final than this. Dusty Harvard, the fresh faced 23-year-old Oklahoma State graduate, finds himself up against 2010’s Cinderella story Seth Schwindenhammer. The two youngsters, who throw right and bat left, have dismantled their opposition on their way to this much anticipated title bout. Little League World Series teams have foregone practice to stuff the ballot boxes for their favorite. The esteemed Craig Forde even missed work to skew the ‘Odor v Hunt’ Elite-8 matchup and ruin my dreams…but I digress…

As worthy as both have been to this point, simple reasoning proves that we have a clear cut favorite and he should skip away with the title giddier than Terry Francona at the Double Bubble* factory’s all-you-can-pilfer summer special.

How criminal it will be when “The Hammer” is unable to crack a cold one once he prevails in 2011 at the ripe old age of 20. Sure, Harvard has an Ivy League name and a flashy college education from the Big XII, and so what if T. Boone Pickens is moving assets around with gusto and verve at BP Capital Management to fund a TV commercial onslaught before tonight’s deadline? Schwindenhammer’s name rolls off the tongue with poetic elegance. His nickname alone, “The Hammer,” summons thoughts of Aaron and Greenberg…the stuff of legend. Break down Dusty Harvard and you get something you’re always trying to get rid of and a school with more endowments than any other university in the United States. Can’t we just rename the kid ‘Wealthy Nuisance’ and call it a day?

Schwindenhammer, the 2010 runner up, has the experience and pedigree to get over the hump and take the crown in 2011. Let’s be honest, the young man has a strikeout problem (97K in 190AB through August 24th). What remains most important, however, was uttered by the great Wayne Gretzky. “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

“The Hammer” has never been shy about taking his hacks and I reckon he takes this one so deep to center at LeLacheur Park that it ends up in the Merrimack.

Schwindenhammer 61% - Harvard 39%.

The case for Dusty Harvard (Craig)

It’s easy for everyone in this region to put their support behind “The Hammer” simply because he plays for Lowell. But he’s been here before and fallen flat in his quest, as he will do once again when the votes are tallied. Dusty Harvard has his own ties to the region and some might say they run a little deeper than Mr. Schwindenhammer, a renowned lover of all things New York (from what I hear). Sure “The Hammer” may play within the Boston Red Sox organization, but Harvard claims that deep down he is a die-hard Boston fan, his favorite movie is Good Will Hunting, he once played for the New Bedford Bay Sox in the NECBL, he owns a Flutie Brothers Band album, he enjoys the culinary stylings of Fall River's Emeril Lagasse and he named his pet rabbit Bobby Orr (one of these is actually a true story).

Harvard, the #2 seed in the Razor Shines bracket, has taken down such heavy hitters as Rex Brothers, Xander Boegarts and Beamer Weems to get to the finals, whereas Schwindenhammer had an easy path as a one seed, easily defeating duds like Flande, Belter, Stumpo and Butts who just sat there like a pitch from Robinson Cano's dad in a Home Run Derby.

But when you really get down to brass tacks, the facts fully support the candidacy of one Mr. Dusty Harvard. There is no denying that people will be voting in favor of the two-syllable first name, as three of the first four Moniker winners have proven (Will Startup in 2008 was an anomaly). Seth just falls flat on the tongue and Schwindenhammer is just far too much for people to handle…my dad is still working on Saltalamacchia. On top of that, the magic “Y” at the end of Harvard’s first name will also aid in his campaign, seeing as the last two winners had the second-to-last letter of the alphabet in their respective corners. Lastly, people love Dustys, plain and simply. Dusty Baker is a World Series champion as a player and three time MLB Manager of the Year; Dusty Rhodes, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, was nicknamed “The American Dream;” Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man has been featured in movies and sung by countless drunk chicks at bars on a weekly basis; and of course Dusty Napoleon took this very contest back in 2009.

For the record, I am already starting my Angelbirth Montilla/Rougned Odor 2012 campaign,but until that time, here is how I feel this one will play out in the end.

Hardy 51% - Schwindenhammer 49%

Minors Moniker Madness Winners
2011 - ???
2010 – Rowdy Hardy
2009 – Dusty Napoleon
2008 – Will Startup
2007 – Houston Summers

*We have direct information from an inside source that Terry Francona’s gum of choice is, indeed, Double Bubble. We cannot divulge our source, (who may or may not be someone who writes for a big-time internet destination) but we do thank him for providing us with confidential information that we could use here and we are forever in his debt (beer is an acceptable payment).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/24/11

Harrisburg Senators (Oliver Perez 3-4, 3.13)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Jeremy Kehrt 2-0, 4.52)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Greg Smith 1-0, 1.29)
vs. Syracuse Chiefs (Tom Milone 10-6, 3.43)

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 1-4, 5.44)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (Evan DeLuca 3-3, 4.27)

Trenton Thunder (Chase Whitley 3-3, 2.75)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Drew Hutchison NR)

Reading Phillies (Austin Hyatt 11-6, 3.94)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 7-9, 4.49)

Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 2-3, 1.88)
vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (Mathew Hobgood 0-5, 11.63)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 1-4, 5.16)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)

Game of the DayRPhils vs. Rock Cats – For some reason I am big-time intrigued by this three card monte going on for the second place playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division. It’s also fun to see the Rock Cats (65-64) playing some meaningful ball this late in the season, especially after such a dismal 2010. After last night's dramatic 4-3 win in twelve innings New Britain is back to being just one game behind Reading (66-63) for second place with thirteen games to play. Tonight will be the rubber match of the final series that these two teams will play against each other this season, and two of the more experienced pitchers in the league will take them out. Austin Hyatt will get his 26th start of the season, most in the Eastern League. He is also first in the league with 11 wins, second in strikeouts with 157 and fifth with a 1.19 WHIP. Hyatt picked up a win against Altoona in his last outing after allowing no earned runs in 6 innings. Since the All-Star break Hyatt is 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA and he has allowed only 1 home run after allowing 16 prior to the break. His counterpart, New Britain’s Bobby Lanigan starts tonights for the 25th time this season, the most of any Rock Cats player and second most in the league. After a brutal July, Lanigan has been trying to right the ship in August and has done well over his last two starts, allowing only 2 earned runs in 13 innings and collecting a win against first place New Hampshire….New Britain is 10-11 in the month of August; Reading is 11-11. So far this month New Britain has endured 3 and 4 game losing streaks and a 3 game win streak. Reading has had a 6 game losing streak this month and a 5 game winning streak.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/23/11

Harrisburg Senators (Daniel Rosenbaum 2-0, 1.40)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Matt Rusch 0-1, 8.44)

Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 3-3, 3.02)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (William Oliver 4-2, 3.79)

Syracuse Chiefs (Brad Peacock 3-1, 3.55)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Alex Wilson 0-0, 4.50)

Trenton Thunder (Craig Heyer 10-6, 3.64)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Nestor Molina 1-0, 0.82)

Reading Phillies (Joe Esposito 5-4, 5.14)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Logan Darnell 1-0, 4.73)

Connecticut Tigers (Wilsen Palacios 4-3, 3.51)
vs. Aberdeen IronBirds (Ryan Berry 1-1, 5.89)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 3-3, 3.19)
vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)

Game of the DayThunder vs. Fisher Cats – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (69-59) have stood atop the E.L.'s Eastern Division since June 16th and had a lead of seven games as recently as last Thursday. But suddenly the ship seems to be taking on water once again as the Cats have gone 2-7 over their last nine games and are in the midst of a four game losing streak at exactly the wrong time! Now with just fourteen games to play the Cats find themselves only 3 games up on a surging Reading (66-62) squad that has rattled off 5 straight wins. Not helping the cause is the fact that Trenton (64-63), once seemingly dead-in-the-water, has reemerged as a viable threat to the Cats playoff hopes as well. The Thunder are now only 4 ½ behind New Hampshire with seven games left to gain ground directly against them. Trenton will try to continue their march towards the top with Craig Heyer on the hill tonight in his 22nd start of the year and his fourth straight on the road. In his last five starts he is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Heyer is 3-0 against the Fisher Cats this season, picking up a win in relief against the Cats back on Opening Day and two as a starter in June. The Fisher Cats will be looking to add a big “L” to Heyer’s mark against them and they are hopeful that Nestor Molina will continue his ways to ensure it. In his first two starts since being called up from Class-A Dunedin earlier this month, he has allowed just 1 earned run over 11 innings and has struck out 17 batters in the process. Prior to his call up, Molina was 10-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 115 Ks in 108 1/3 innings with Dunedin…The Fisher Cats are 4-10 versus Trenton this season and have been swept in the last two series (both three games) against them…Trenton’s 43 triples are the most in the Eastern League…Fisher Cats’ center fielder Anthony Gose is 11-for-11 on stolen base attempts in the month of August, but he is only batting .219.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

September Impact Call-Ups: IL North

Despite Ryan Lavarnway making his debut for the Red Sox on August 18th, the Paw Sox have a few bodies that could help Boston’s stretch run. Left-handed relievers carry exceptional value at a time when playing matchups becomes so important. Just as the rival Yankees utilized Damaso Marte in 2009 to mitigate Ryan Howard, Theo Epstein must surely consider the impact of adding Felix Doubront and Hideki Okajima as both have experience in the Boston bullpen. Having an option besides Franklin Morales may be the difference between the Divisional Title and a Wild Card berth. Doubront has been up and down but his stuff is promising enough to garner consideration and Okajima has been steady for the Paw Sox in 2011. Positionally, Ryan Kalish may figure into things but I don’t see him getting enough playing time to be a difference-maker.

Lehigh Valley
Michael Schwimer has been fantastic for the Iron Pigs and made his Major League debut on 8/21. The towering 6"8' right hander was carrying a 1.88 ERA in relief and will be a nice addition to the best pitching staff in baseball. Due to Domonic Brown’s demotion to AAA 3 weeks ago, it would appear as if he is the top candidate to help the Phillies. Teammate Brandon Moss may move ahead of him in the pecking order, however, as the Phillies could use a left-handed bat with power who is currently producing. As Brown has struggled in his demotion (.179 BA in 67 PA), Moss has hit .280 since July 1 with 10 HR and 29 RBI. The Phillies are absolutely loaded so it’s difficult to see anyone getting the call and usurping someone’s starting job. Charlie Manuel needs bodies that can perform when called upon. With Brown faltering, great opportunity exists for Moss to impress.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre
Jesus Montero’s name doesn’t appear on the Yankees 40-Man roster but could figure into things come September. The 21 year old has had his name tossed around the call-up rumor mill since May. As Jorge Posada and Russell Martin struggle at the plate, Montero’s power bat could be the perfect addition to the Yankee lineup. The Killer B’s: Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman, don’t figure to be going anywhere according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman. As with the rival Red Sox, New York’s biggest weakness in the bullpen is their lack of quality left-handers. Boone Logan has thrown together a career year in 2011 but the thought of carrying him alone should be worrisome. Banuelos is the only lefty of the bunch but the Yankees aren’t keen on rushing his development at this point.

The Chiefs don’t feature much in terms of 2011 impact talent. Cole Kimball would figure to lead the list of arms but a torn labrum has him out until the 2012 All-Star Break. Bryce Harper won’t be making his MLB debut this season although he should find himself in AAA next year. Perhaps the best bat of the bunch belongs to Chris Marrero who is hitting .301 with 14 HR and 69 RBI in 2011. Michael Morse provides the obvious roadblock but you’d think that management would reward the 23 year old with the call. Steven Strasburg could also return for the Nats in September. The youngster was hit hard on 8/17, surrendering 5 ER and 4 H in 1.2 IP. The front office will be very careful with him from here on out as he attempts to regain confidence in his arm.

The New York Mets farm system has played a significant part in the club’s 2011 season. Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, and Dillon Gee have all been serviceable for Terry Collins as the Mets have dealt with a string of unfortunate injuries. Johan Santana’s recovery has been marred by setbacks and injury ridden Carlos Beltran is now gone to the Bay. Top prospect Jenrry Mejia had Tommy John surgery after many claim Jerry Manuel overused him in 2010. Recently promoted Nick Evans (.313 AVG, 8 HR, 32 RBI) figures to see time for the remainder of the season. Of the players left in AAA, Chris Schwinden’s breakout year figures to earn him a call-up in September. Although he has faltered somewhat in July and into August, Schwinden has earned a start or two against Major League level hitting as the Mets prepare for 2012.

Where do I begin? The club began 2011 with 3 promising prospects who figured to see time in Minnesota before the end of the year. Ben Revere was the beneficiary of the Twins injury problems and has cemented himself into the starting lineup with the trade of Delmon Young. Trevor Plouffe, whose name is no stranger to Beyond Fenway, has finally landed himself in the Twin Cities with Alexi Casilla’s injury. Seeing time all over the field, Plouffe’s power is needed in a light Twins lineup. It remains to be seen what the organization’s plans are for him in 2012. Ron Gardenhire has gone on record wishing that Plouffe will play winter ball to cement himself anywhere on the field. Kyle Gibson’s season has been a disappointing one, physically derailed by injury and statistically by inconsistency. He should be ready to go in 2012 and I expect him to be called up at some point before the All-Star Break. It seems unlikely that he will crack the rotation out of Spring Training but stranger things have happened.

The rest of Rochester’s group figures to play a very limited role in Minnesota. Dustin Martin, not a part of the 40 man roster, has earned the right to see time as much as Brian Dinkelman and Rene Tosoni did early in the year. Chuck James could move back into a bullpen role with the Twins and he deserves it more than anyone. A 1.86 ERA with 58 K to 22 BB makes James the best arm in Rochester and the most likely to aid the Twins in September. Unfortunately for the Twinkies, Target Field won’t get to see baseball in October.

Connecticut's Palacios named New York-Penn PotW

For the second straight week a Connecticut Tigers' pitcher has earned New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors. Wilsen Palacios follows up Luis Angel Sanz with a one-start gem that went down as the best performance in the league for the period of August 15th through the 21st.

Over his last two starts he has allowed only 5 hits and 1 walk in 16 innings and has not allowed a single run. His one eligible game during the period of 8/15-8/22 came on the 18th against the top team in the league, the Staten Island Yankees, and his line from that game was:
W, CG, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K

For the season Palacios has compiled a 4-3 record with a 3.51 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 59 innings. His 1.19 WHIP is eighth best in the league and he is the only pitcher in the NYPL with a shutout this season, of which he has two!

Congratulations to Wilsen on his PotW worthy outing. Palacios is now the third Tiger to get a PotW this season as Tyler Collins also grabbed honors alongside Sanz for his work with the bat last week.

2011 New England based Pitchers/Players of the Week
Connecticut - P Wilsen Palacios 8/15 - 8/ 21 (N.Y.P.L.)
Connecticut - OF Tyler Collins 8/8 - 8/ 14 (N.Y.P.L.)
Connecticut - P Luis Angel Sanz 8/8 - 8/ 14 (N.Y.P.L.)
Pawtucket - P Matt Fox 8/8 - 8/14 (I.L.)
New Britain - SS Brian Dozier 8/1 - 8/7 (E.L.)
Lowell - 3B Garin Cecchini 7/18 - 7/24 (N.Y.P.L.)
Pawtucket - P Brandon Duckworth 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Pawtucket - C Ryan Lavarnway 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Lowell - 3B Travis Shaw 6/27 - 7/3 (N.Y.P.L.)
New Hampshire - SP Henderson Alvarez 6/20 - 6/26 (E.L.)
New Britain – SP Brett Jacobson 6/13 – 6/19 (E.L.)
Portland – SP Stephen Fife 6/6 - 6/12 (E.L.)
Portland – OF Chih-Hsien Chiang 5/30 – 6/5 (E.L.)
New Hampshire – SP Joel Carreno 5/16 – 5/22 (E.L.)
New Britain – IN/OF Yangervis Solarte 4/25 – 5/1 (E.L.)

Pitching Matchup; Game of the Day 8/22/11

Harrisburg Senators (Tanner Roark 8-8, 5.23)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 3-6, 5.26)

Syracuse Chiefs (Craig Stammen 9-6. 4.41)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena Jr., 8-5, 3.60)

Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 8-13, 4.82)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 3-4, 5.40)

Trenton Thunder (Cory Arbiso 4-5, 5.15)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 5-5, 4.08)

Aberdeen IronBirds (Tyler Wilson 0-0, 1.93)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanz 5-4, 3.13)

Hudson Valley Renegades (N/A)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (J.C. Menna 2-6, 6.93)

Staten Island Yankees (Wilton Rodriguez 1-3, 3.76)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Raul Alcantara 0-1, 27.00)

Game of the DayRPhils vs. Rock Cats – Reading (65-62) and New Britain (64-63) are in a heated battle for the second playoff spot in the E.L. Eastern Division (with Trenton lurking directly behind them). With one game separating the teams, both come into the series riding modest win streaks; the RPhils with four in a row and the Cats winners of three straight. New Britain is fresh off of a three game sweep of first place New Hampshire which has allowed Reading to pull within 4 games of the division lead. Reading's J.C. Ramirez will get his 24th start of the season. He has earned a decision in 21 of his prior 23 starts, but unfortunately five of his eight wins came in the first two months of the season. Ramirez does lead the Eastern League with three complete games. He picked up a loss versus the Rock Cats back on June 17th when he allowed 6 hits and 4 walks that lead to 3 earned runs. Blake Martin will hit the hill for his tenth start of the season with New Britain. He has picked up victories in his last two starts, going 5 innings and allowing three runs in both, but he also allowed 9 combined walks in those games. On the season his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 1:1.25 and he allowed a season high 8 walks over 4 1/3 against Erie at the beginning of the month. Martin has not faced the Rock Cats this season…These two teams have only faced off in one other series this season when the Rock Cats swept three games in Reading back June. New Britain outscored the RPhils 13-4 in that series. Last season New Britain and Reading played 11 games with the RPhils taking the season series 2-9…Despite already reaching a high water mark for home runs during any month this season (6), New Britain center fielder Joe Benson is batting .225 in August. Ten of his sixteen hits have been for extra bases…After starting 95 games in 98 appearances over his first five pro seasons, Rock Cats’ reliever Tyler Robertson has appeared in 49 games this season (most in the E.L.), all out of the pen, and he has compiled an 8-3 record with 15 saves (tied for third most in the E.L.)…As a team, Reading is tied for the league lead in batting average (.272) and leads in home runs (127).

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Pitching Matchup; Game of the Day 8/19/11

Binghamton Mets (Jeurys Familia 3-3, 3.78)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Miguel Gonzalez 0-4, 6.21)

Columbus Clippers (Mitch Talbot 1-1, 5.40)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Greg Smith 3-3, 4.84)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Yohan Pino 3-6, 4.11)
vs. New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 6-9, 4.73)

Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Joseph Colon 4-2, 4.25)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Drew Granier 0-1, 1.32)

Staten Island Yankees (William Olvier 4-2, 4.25)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (Brennan Smith 2-3, 2.10)

Batavia Muckdogs (N/A)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 1-4, 4.84)

Game of the Day - Clippers vs. PawSox - After dropping last night’s game 7-5, the PawSox (71-54) find themselves back in a tie atop the I.L. North with Lehigh Valley (72-55) who has strung together a three-game win streak. Pawtucket will be looking to split their four game series versus Columbus tonight and also the season series which tilts in the Clippers favor 4-3. Columbus pushes Mitch Talbot to the hill for his fourth start of the season. He has endured multiple DL stints this season, thanks to back and elbow issues, and was knocked around for a bit with the Indians before being sent back down to Columbus. In three appearances during August, Talbot has gone 5 innings and has allowed 8 earned runs and 11 hits. The recently signed Greg Smith is slated to pitch for Pawtucket tonight after being released from the Yankees organization where he made 13 appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Smith is a lefthander who last pitched on Saturday against Syracuse when he surrendered only 1 earned run and scattered 6 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Smith did appear against Columbus from the bullpen in back-to-back games in July, allowing 5 earned runs over 3 innings…Seventeen regular season games remain for the PawSox (who have two more left to play than the Iron Pigs), including six straight against Syracuse (55-67) starting with four games against the SkyChiefs at home Saturday night. They also have six games remaining against the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Yankees (62-62)…The PawSox have done a ton of roaster shuffling over the last few days with notable moves including Matt Fox and Brandon Duckworth being sent to the 7-day DL and “All-World” Ryan Lavarnway getting called up for a cup of coffee with the big club, while Alex Wilson and Will Middlebrooks have made the jump up from Portland to help out in the playoff stretch.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pitching Matchupsl Game of the Day 8/18/11

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Nestor Molina 1-0, 1.50)
vs. Altoona Curve (Aaron Pribanic 8-9, 4.15)

New Britain Rock Cats (Logan Darnell 1-0, 0.00)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Robert Carson 3-11, 4.85)

Columbus Clippers (Zach McAllister 9-3, 3.27)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Alex Wilson NR)

Portland Sea Dogs (Matt Rusch NR)
vs. Reading Phillies (Joseph Esposito 5-4, 5.15)

Staten Island Yankees (N/A)
vs. Connecticut Tigers (N/A)

Batavia Muckdogs (Ryan Sherriff NR)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Luis Diaz 3-2, 3.02)

Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Rob Nixon 6-4, 4.43)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Tyler Vail 1-4, 4.28)

Game of the DayFisher Cats vs. Curve – New Hampshire (68-55) needed a late rally last night to split their doubleheader against Altoona (56-66) and halt their three game slide. This afternoon they will look for a split of their four game series against the Curve as Nestor Molina gets his second start for the Cats. Molina was brilliant in his first start with New Hampshire last Friday after being called up from Class-A Dunedin. In 6 innings versus Akron, Molina allowed just 1 earned run on 4 hits and a walk and struck out 8 opponents along the way. The Cats will be leaning heavily on Molina down the stretch in light of their departed big guns. He will face off against E.L. All-Star Aaron Pribanic who gets his 24th start with the Curve today. Pribanic has gone 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA over his last five starts, which included a game where he got shelled for 6 runs and 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings. His strikeouts per nine innings is a dismal 4.0 and his 147 hits allowed this season is the fourth most in the league…The Fisher Cats started the month of August with four straight wins, followed by three straight loses, followed by another four game win streak and then another three game losing streak. They are 9-6 on the month….The Fisher Cats lead the season series 3-2 against the Curve.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pitching Matchups 8/17/11

Connecticut Tigers (N/A) GAME 1
vs. Staten Island Yankees (N/A)

Connecticut Tigers (N/A)
vs. Staten Island Yankees (N/A)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 5-4, 3.81) GAME 1
vs. Altoona Curve (Kyle McPherson 6-4, 3.03)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (B.J. LaMura 5-5, 3.74)
vs. Altoona Curve (N/A)

Portland Sea Dogs (Chris Balcom-Miller 2-5, 5.12) GAME 1
vs. Reading Phillies (J.C. Ramirez 8-13, 4.72)

Portland Sea Dogs (Jeremy Kehrt 1-0, 4.69)
vs. Reading Phillies (Derrick Loop 1-1, 5.04)

New Britain Rock Cats (Blake Martin 2-4, 5.40)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Brandon Moore 9-7, 4.07)

Columbus Clippers (Jeanmar Gomez 10-5, 2.45)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Tony Pena Jr., 8-5, 3.54)

Batavia Muckdogs (N/A)
vs. Lowell Spinners (Raul Alcantara NR)

Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Danny Jimenez 2-3, 2.70)
vs. Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 3-3, 3.40)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/16/11

New Britain Rock Cats (David Bromberg 1-2, 4.46)
vs. Binghamton Mets (Matt Harvey 2-3, 4.99)

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Dustin McGowan 0-0, 0.00)
vs. Altoona Curve (Michael Colla 5-8, 3.72)

Columbus Clippers (Corey Kluber 6-8, 5.91)
vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (Felix Doubront 1-3, 3.14)

Portland Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-10, 6.34)
vs. Reading Phillies (Tyler Cloyd 3-3, 3.26)

New York-Penn League All Star Game
at LeLacheur Field, Lowell, MA
National League Affiliates
vs. American League Affiliates

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. BMets – The New Britain Rock Cats (60-61) have new life in the playoff race as they sit one half game behind Trenton and Reading for the second playoff spot in the E.L. Eastern Division. After sinking so quickly under the .500 mark following a six game losing streak that started at the end of July, the Cats have slowly climbed back towards the light, winning four of their last five games. The time for them to capitalize is now as they open up shop in Binghamton against the BMets (51-70), owners of the worst record in the league. David Bromberg gets his seventh start of the season for the Rock Cats and fourth since returning from a broken forearm he received back in May when he got hit by a line drive. He came into the season as the 13th ranked prospect in the Twins system according to Baseball America, but the setback has thrown an obvious wrench in his development. Yet now he has a chance to step up here and back that pre-season praise. Bromberg has tossed four innings in each of his starts since coming back and could be ready to stretch things out a little longer, especially if he comes out hitting his spots. Speaking of hype, BMets starter Matt Harvey was the 4th ranked Mets prospect according to BA coming into the season. Only Jenrry Mejia stood above him on the pitching charts, yet he has stumbled since advancing to Double-A after he lit up the Florida State League with St. Lucie. Harvey, the 2010 1st round pick of the Mets, will get his ninth start with Binghamton and his first at home since July 6th. Despite his other numbers, Harvey has racked up the Ks, striking out 48 batters in 39 2/3 innings since joining the BMets and overall in 2011 he has whiffed 140 opponents in only 115 2/3 innings of work…Binghamton is the only team in the Eastern League that does not have a pitcher who has thrown a complete game this season…The Rock Cats have the worst team ERA in the league at 4.90 and their 1.49 team WHIP is tied with the BMets for worst.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Fox, Collins and Sanz nab PotWs

For the second time this season three local players took home Player of the Week honors during the same period. Pawtucket's Matt Fox took the International League Pitcher of the Week honor and Connecticut's Tyler Collins and Luis Angel Sanz collected the New York-Penn League's Batter and Pitcher honors respectively for the period of August 8th through the 14th.

Matt Fox had hands down one of the best pitching weeks of the season. In two starts for the period, both on the road, he proceeded to lock down hitters from both Charlotte and Gwinnett in key games that helped put and keep the PawSox in first place. On the season, Fox has appeared in 21 games (19 starts) and has 113 strikeouts over 119 2/3 innings pitched. His 8 wins is tied with four others for most wins on the Pawtucket staff. Here are the numbers that earned him the I.L. Pitcher of the Week honor:
2 W, 15 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 15 Ks

Tyler Collins is in his first professional season out of Howard Junior College in Texas and had previously played three games with the Gulf Coast Tigers this year. He is batting .341 in 22 games with Connecticut and has 11 extra base hits, 18 runs scored and 4 stolen bases on 4 attempts. Collins helped the Tigers go 5-1 during last week, including three multiple hit games. Here are his numbers for the period of August 8 - 14th:
409 BA, 4 2B, HR, 8 R, 8 RBI, 2 SB

Luis Angel Sanz is in his second tour of duty with Connecticut after starting three games with the CTTigers in 2010. In ten starts this year Sanz has pitched at least 5 innings in all but one. His 57 strikeouts are second most in the NYPL and his 1.12 WHIP is fifth best. Sanz had only one start during this period, but it was exceptional as he dominated Lowell last Monday. Here is his line from that game and for the week:
W, 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K

Congratulations to Matt, Tyler and Luis for picking up the well deserved honors. At this point in the season the Vermont Lake Monsters are the only New England based MiLB team without a Player of the Week, but with three full weeks to go, look for that to change. All other teams have picked up at least two honors thus far.

2011 New England based Pitchers/Players of the Week
Connecticut - OF Tyler Collins 8/8 - 8/ 14 (N.Y.P.L.)
Connecticut - P Luis Angel Sanz 8/8 - 8/ 14 (N.Y.P.L.)
Pawtucket - P Matt Fox 8/8 - 8/14 (I.L.)
New Britain - SS Brian Dozier 8/1 - 8/7 (E.L.)
Lowell - 3B Garin Cecchini 7/18 - 7/24 (N.Y.P.L.)
Pawtucket - P Brandon Duckworth 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Pawtucket - C Ryan Lavarnway 7/18 - 7/24 (I.L.)
Lowell - 3B Travis Shaw 6/27 - 7/3 (N.Y.P.L.)
New Hampshire - SP Henderson Alvarez 6/20 - 6/26 (E.L.)
New Britain – SP Brett Jacobson 6/13 – 6/19 (E.L.)
Portland – SP Stephen Fife 6/6 - 6/12 (E.L.)
Portland – OF Chih-Hsien Chiang 5/30 – 6/5 (E.L.)
New Hampshire – SP Joel Carreno 5/16 – 5/22 (E.L.)
New Britain – IN/OF Yangervis Solarte 4/25 – 5/1 (E.L.)

Pitching Matchup; Game of the Day 8/15/11

Pawtucket Red Sox (Brandon Duckworth 8-6, 3.94)
vs. Gwinnett Braves (Erik Cordier 4-8, 5.35)

Game of the DayRed Sox vs. Braves – Now this was a toughy given all of the great options out there today, but I’m thinking even if any other local teams were playing that we’d still go with this one as things are getting hot and heavy in the I.L. North race. The PawSox (69-52) still maintain a ½ game lead over Lehigh Valley thanks to some well placed rain over the weekend that forced the IronPigs (69-53) to suspend two different games. Brandon Duckworth will look to follow up Matt Fox’s gem from yesterday and help the PawSox take 3 of 4 from Gwinnett. He has not factored into a decision in his last two starts after rattling off four straight wins. Tonight will be Duckworth’s 21st start of the year and first against the Braves. Gwinnett throw Erik Cordier at the PawSox bats, in hopes of splitting the four game set. In his last six starts he has a 2-3 record and has allowed 20 runs and 23 walks, but in the one game where he didn’t get a decision he allowed only one hit over six innings versus Norfolk, but also allowed 5 walks in the process. Since the All-Star break Cordier is 1-3 with a 7.53 ERA and he has a 17/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio…Pawtucket is 5-2 on their current road trip which wraps up tonight. They return to McCoy Stadium on Tuesday night to start a four game series against the Columbus Clippers (77-45) who own the best record in the International League. Pawtucket has 21 games remaining in the regular season, 12 of which will be played at McCoy.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/14/11

Erie Seawolves (Casey Crosby 7-5, 3.84)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Charlie Haeger 2-0, 3.71)

Lowell Spinners (Jason Garcia 3-2, 4.34)
vs. Jamestown Jammers (Jose Urena 4-5, 4.37)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Seth Frankoff 3-3, 3.40)
vs. Batavia Muckdogs (Corey Baker 3-1, 3.94)

Akron Aeros (Matt Packer 5-11, 4.61)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Joel Carreno 7-9, 3.52)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Matt Fox 7-4, 4.55)
vs. Gwinnett Braves (Erik Cordier 4-8, 5.35)

New Britain Rock Cats (Andrew Albers 3-1, 4.24) GAME 1
vs. Bowie Baysox (Tim Bascom 8-2, 3.19)

New Britain Rock Cats (Matt Schuld 0-2, 8.18)
vs. Bowie Baysox (N/A)

Connecticut Tigers (Luis Angel Sanz 5-3, 3.36)
vs. State College Spikes (Michael Jefferson 2-1, 4.71)

Game of the DaySpinners vs. Jammers – They are eleven games under .500 with the third worst record in the New York-Penn League, yet the Lowell Spinners (22-33) the slighest glimmer of hope remains as they are only 6 games back in the Stedler Division with twenty to play. Sure it seems like a monumental task, but it’s something worth looking at in the ever-unstable Stedler, where things should come down to the final out of the regular season. The Jamestown Jammers (29-27) are in a similar situation in the Pinckney Division, although they are on the positive side of .500 and sit only 4 games back. The Spinners have 18-year-old Jason Garcia on the hill in their last game before the All Star break. Today will be the youngster’s tenth start of the season and he will be looking to get back on track after a couple of stinkers over his last three outings. Garcia fired a decent five innings against State College back on July 30th, but he sandwiched that performance with two stale outings where he lasted only 1 2/3 innings in both and allowed a total of 11 earned runs. Garcia’s last win came on July 19th against Vermont. He will be opposed by 19-year-old righty Jose Urena who gets his twelfth start of the season today. He is coming off of back-to-back losses against Tri-City and Connecticut. Urena’s 55 2/3 innings pitched is seventh most in the league and his 23 walks are tied for fifth most…Lowell is 3-9 for the month of August, Jamestown is 5-8…This is the only series that these two teams play against each other this year and today will be the rubber match after these two squads split the first two of the set…Jamestown catcher, and one of my favorite first names in all of baseball, Jobduan Morales is sixth in the league in batting average (.311), eighth in doubles (10), second in triples (5), tenth in runs (28) and eleventh in walks (24)…Spinners outfielder Seth Schwindenhammer has only 36 hits on the season, but 17 have been for extra bases. Also, “The Hammer” has advanced to Round Three of the Minors Moniker Madness tournament, so be sure to keep voting to move him on to the Quarterfinals…The Lowell Spinners will host the NYPL All-Star Game on Tuesday night at LeLachuer Park and select tickets are still available.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pitching Matchups; Game of the Day 8/13/11

Erie Seawolves (Brooks Brown 2-7, 6.23)
vs. Portland Sea Dogs (Alex Wilson 9-4, 2.93)

New Britain Rock Cats (Bobby Lanigan 6-9, 4.82)
vs. Bowie Baysox (Mike Ballard 7-1, 3.24)

Pawtucket Red Sox (Kyle Weiland 8-7, 3.23)
vs. Gwinnett Braves (Todd Redmond 8-8, 2.91)

Akron Aeros (Austin Adams 9-8, 3.81)
vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Yohan Pino 2-6, 4.67)

Vermont Lake Monsters (Brent Powers 2-2, 4.01)
vs. Batavia Muckdogs (Jonathan Cornelius 1-2, 2.85)

Connecticut Tigers (Thomas Collier 1-1, 3.00)
vs. State College Spikes (Ryan Hafner 2-3, 2.74)

Lowell Spinners (Madison Younginer 1-3, 4.57)
vs. Jamestown Jammers (Josh Hodges 5-1, 3.82)

Game of the DayRock Cats vs. Baysox - Things looked bleak for the Rock Cats (58-60) playoff hopes only one short week ago, but with Reading and Trenton slipping away, New Britain now finds themselves only one game back of the second playoff spot out of the Eastern Division. They can also play the spoiler role if they continue to take care of the Baysox (66-52) who sit only a ½ game back of Harrisburg in the Western Division. Needless to say, this whole playoff thing should come down to the final pitch of the season, yet tonight could go a long way in seeing who has what it takes to get there in the end. Bobby Lanigan will look to keep the Cats hunting in his 23rd start of the season. This will be his seventh road start over his last ten outings. Over his last three starts Lanigan has allowed 17 runs and 29 hits over 13 1/3 innings. Mike Ballard will be looking to help Bowie climb back to the top of the Western Division in his 12th start with the Baysox. This will be his sixth straight start at the friendly confines of Prince George’s Stadium and he has gone 3-1 in the prior five. Ballard struck out 10 New Hampshire Fisher Cats in his last outing and has 85 Ks in 77 2/3 innings with Bowie this year…These two teams have split the season series to date with five wins apiece and three games left to play. They wrap up the series with a doubleheader tomorrow…Bowie second baseman Greg Miclat is second in the E.L. with 48 stolen bases and has only been caught twice. Bowie leads the league with 146 stolen bases…New Britain pitchers have a team ERA of 4.94 and WHIP of 1.50, both the highest numbers in the league…Rock Cats shortstop Brian Dozier has hit safely in 11 straight games.

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